By Benjamin Kibbey
Two State Route 155 lanes are expected to reopen in mid-December in the area affected by the Isabella Lake Dam project, though the road continues to have single-lane traffic signals in the southbound lane.
There will continue to be “minor lane refinements through the end of the year,” a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) press release said. The public is advised to look out for future updates on any changes to traffic patterns or lane closures.
As part of ongoing work on the dam project, the Army Corps of Engineers also reminded residents that the Engineers Point site and surrounding area are off-limits to the public, as the Phase II Dams and Spillways contractor continues work in that area, the release said.
While nearby wildfires have not significantly impeded progress on the project, the release stated that “enhanced” COVID-19 protocols have been implemented that are applicable to all Army Corps of Engineers staff and contractors working on the project.
Though the press release did not allude to any incidents involving drones or other unmanned aircraft, the Army Corps of Engineers also reminded residents that all such aircraft are prohibited from operating on or above federal lands operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, the release stated. The basis for the ban is “to ensure critical infrastructure security and public safety.”
In ongoing progress of the project, the release also reported that excavation and slope stabilization continues on the emergency spillway, and the contractor recently “successfully embanked” the auxiliary dam back to flood elevation 2,570.
“Steel rebar and slab placement work continues on the labyrinth weir and excavation on the emergency spillway,” the release stated. “Main Dam and Service Spillway work continues.”
Additionally, the work on alternative sites for the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center has passed the initial screening phase, and the project team is currently in the National Environmental Policy Act approval process.
The Isabella Lake Dam first became operational in 1953, and Isabella Lake reservoir has a gross storage capacity of 566,075 acre-feet of water, the release said. During the construction period, that capacity is restricted to 361,250 acre-feet outside of flood season.
The most recent levels, which can be viewed on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, had the lake at 98,082 acre-feet, with 137 cubic feet-per-second outflow.